Here's how Congress can fix Trump's Muslim ban
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President Trump’s Muslim ban is immoral and unconstitutional, and it demands a fierce political and legal response.

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At the ACLU, we are working hard to overturn the discriminatory ban, both inside the court and through the political process. A New York federal judge’s ruling delivered an important legal victory, ensuring that people cannot and should not be deported if they have a legal right to stay in the United States. Over the coming weeks, we’ll continue to do battle in the courts to argue the unconstitutionality of the order and to ensure that the judge’s rulings are enforced by the administrative branch.

 

Outside the courts, we have been extremely gratified by the outpouring of Americans who have taken to airports across the country to peacefully yet forcefully express a desire to stand in resistance to Trump’s order and in solidarity with the families it is tearing apart. The hundreds of thousands of voices speaking against religious discrimination have undoubtedly elevated and strengthened the legal arguments the ACLU is making inside courtrooms across the country.

As is clear now, the hastily written executive order was motivated by an animus to fulfill a campaign pledge to stop Muslim immigrants and refugees from entering the country rather than do anything to improve the security interests of the United States. Refugees are already subject to an extensive, years-long vetting process – certainly far more extensive than the executive order that resulted in their detention and exclusion.

So what can we do through the political process to address the unconstitutional actions taken by President Trump? There are two key leverage points this week that the Senate should employ to demand accountability from the administration. Trump’s nominees to head the State Department – Rex Tillerson – and the Department of Justice – Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRoy Moore sues Alabama over COVID-19 restrictions GOP set to release controversial Biden report Trump's policies on refugees are as simple as ABCs MORE – are still pending Senate approval.

Tillerson, who is expected to get a Senate confirmation vote on Monday night, should be postponed until the Senate can ascertain his involvement in the order and whether he intends to implement it. During his confirmation hearing, Tillerson told Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate Democrats introduce bill to sanction Russians over Taliban bounties Trump-backed candidate wins NH GOP Senate primary to take on Shaheen Democratic senator urges Trump to respond to Russian aggression MORE (D-N.H.), “I do not support a blanket type rejection of any particular group of people.” Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerDemocrats blast Trump after report reveals he avoided income taxes for 10 years: 'Disgusting' Biden refuses to say whether he would support expanding Supreme Court Schumer says Trump tweet shows court pick meant to kill off ObamaCare MORE of New York was right when he said every senator deserves to know where Tillerson stands on the anti-immigrant orders before they vote.

Then, on Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) is scheduled to get a vote in the Judiciary Committee. That should be postponed as well, and the committee should re-call Sessions to testify so that he can explain what level of involvement he had in the orders. As with Tiillerson, Sessions testified in his confirmation hearing that he opposed the Muslim ban. Does he support the order Trump has announced? And does it not contravene a statement he made under oath to the committee?

We’ve been heartened to see several House and Senate Republicans of good conscience begin to step up and take issue with the president’s order. Senators of both parties should come together and agree that these two votes need to be delayed in the interest of the Senate having full information before it provides its advice and consent. Americans are marching, protesting and practically begging their political leaders to prove they have the moral conviction to take on injustice.

The fight is now, the battle is here, and the opportunities for historic leadership are available for anyone willing to seize them. 

 

Faiz Shakir is national political director of the ACLU.


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